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My 5 Pet Peeves with Reading Blogs (mostly surrounding comments and feeds)

Mar 9, 2008 • blogging, general

I have five short, simple pet peeves when it comes to reading blogs.

1. No email notification for follow-up comments.

When I leave a comment on a blog, I want to be notified if the author replies. About 70% of the blogs I read lack this feature. If you use WordPress, you can incorporate this feature through the Subscribe to Comments plugin. I'm not sure how to do it Blogger, but I have seen it done (see the following image).

blogger.png

Without this follow-up, I have to periodically revisit your blog to see if you've responded. Since comments I leave are often sporadic and added quickly, chances are I won't remember that I even made a comment. Without this feature, blogs become less of a conversation and more like a guest book that I'm signing. (Blogflux has a service called Commentful that helps track updates to a site, but it's a lot of effort to add blogs to watchlists.)

The only disadvantage to follow-up comments in spam. If spammers get through and I'm subscribed, I may get some spam emails. I once set my wife's blog up with the Subscribe to Comments plugin, and when she started getting spam comments, she was horrified to learn that the previous commenters automatically received the spam comments. Still, with good anti-spam tools like Akismet, this isn't such a concern.

2. No ability to add my own blog link in the comment ID and be notified of follow-up.

In the above image, if I select the Email follow-up comments option, I'm forced to select my Google/Blogger identity. Since I don't use Blogger, it shows my minimalist identity. As you can see, there's not much there except a link to my real blog.

If I select the Name/URL option, I can customize my name and URL in the comment ID, but can't receive follow-up comments. Drats!

To add to the confusion, when I select the Email follow-up comments option, the first thing Google sends me is my own comment. Uhm, does Google know what the word "follow-up" means?

3. Truncated post in my feed.

If you use a "read more" tag with your post, often the full post doesn't come through in the feedreader -- just the excerpt. This can really be tough for people like me who read feeds on a Blackberry.

You can get around this truncated feed problem in WordPress by using the Full Text Feed plugin (I'm happy to hear this plugin won't be needed in WordPress 2.5). If you're using another blogging platform, I'm not sure how to get the full feed in the feedreader.

Usually I just skip over truncated feeds because it takes about 10-15 seconds to load the original article on a BlackBerry. Sorry. That's my passive aggressive response, because typing a reason as to why I'm not loading your original post takes too long and is impossible to do without loading the original post (which would defeat my point).

It feels good to vent. These pet peeves have really been frustrating me lately, and they are especially common on Blogger blogs. I have a couple of more pet peeves, so I'm getting them off my chest now.

4. Undescriptive or Misleading Titles

The most annoying title of the week goes to this post by Paul Stamatiou: How I Got a MacBook Air for 15 Dollars. (Sorry, Paul.) With a title like that, it's hard not to click it and see what the deal is. At least in the first paragraph Paul makes his confession:

The title is a bit misleading but it draws upon the minimum monthly payment on my credit card: $15. Of course I won't be paying $15 per month forever, but it makes for a nice title.

The real post title should really be something like Why I Put a MacBook Air on my Credit Card with a Minimum Payment of $15 a Month. (I'm kidding.) Generally I want a title to clearly reflect what the post is about. This can save me a lot of time scanning feeds. Of course we want catchy, clever post titles. But c'mon people. I only have so much tolerance for random, vague creativity. :)

5. No About Page or Contact Form

Sometimes I really like to know who I'm reading. This is pet peeve #5, so it's not that big a deal, but have you ever wanted to contact someone "offline" and haven't been able to? I end up leaving a comment on their latest post, even though my comment has nothing to do with the post. So I have to preface the comment with something like, "Sorry that this has nothing to do with your post, but I didn't see any other way to contact you." If you're looking for a way to incorporate a contact form in WordPress, I recommend the Dagon Design Form Mailer. Or simply put your email address somewhere.

Without a contact form or email address, I usually expose my own email in the comment I leave. And then most likely they don't have any follow-up features for comments, so I have to periodically check back for replies.

Any time one site commits two or more pet peeves, the frustration quadruples rather than following a linear escalation. Sites that commit all five pet peeves should win some type of award.

What are your pet peeves about blogging? Surely I'm committing someone's pet peeve with my own blog.

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About Tom Johnson

Tom Johnson

I'm a technical writer based in the California San Francisco Bay area. Topics I write about on this blog include technical writing, authoring and publishing tools, API documentation, tech comm trends, visual communication, technical writing career advice, information architecture and findability, developer documentation, and more. If you're a professional or aspiring technical writer, be sure to subscribe to email updates using the form above. You can learn more about me here.